BRIEF REPORT: Body and Facial Hair Growth for Transsexuals on Hormone Treatment
Note: Brief reports are features which highlight specific studies or small groups of studies on transgender topics. They are not intended to be given the same weighting as comprehensive reports (such as on the Transgender Brain or Quality of Life in Treated Transsexuals, q.v.) Please use caution when interpreting or drawing conclusions from the results, and never attempt any changes in your medication or health care without consulting your physician first.
Almost all transsexuals notice significant changes in their body and facial hair as a result of hormone therapy, but with a wide variation in results. Some may only notice a slight lessening of hair after two years, or (like the author) they may be fortunate and find entire regions of their body clear of hair. Therefore it is vital that as you read these reports, you understand that your results may not align with the results which are discussed.
One study with good management of the test subjects and controls examined the change in body hair and facial hair for transsexual women and men. There were 21 transwomen (all Caucasian, from age 20-44) who underwent an assessment of their body and facial hair density, growth rate, and diameter. All subjects were tested before starting hormone therapy, and at 4-month intervals up to one year from the start of hormones. All subjects were monitored on their cheek and upper abdomen. Over the 12-month period transwomen saw significant decreases in hair growth rates on their cheek and abdomen, with a mean reduction of 29% on their cheek and 50% on their upper abdomen. Hair density (hairs per square inch) decreased by 44% on their cheek and 50% on their upper abdomen. Hair diameter decreased by 20% on their cheek and 45% on their upper abdomen. Most of the changes were gradual over the 12-month period. (Giltay)
In the study by Giltay and Gooren there were 17 transmen (all white, from age 18-37) who underwent an assessment of their body and facial hair density, growth rate, and diameter. All subjects were tested before starting hormone therapy, and at 4-month intervals up to one year from the start of hormones. All subjects were monitored on their cheek and upper abdomen. Over the 12-month period transmen saw significant increases in hair growth rates on their cheek and abdomen. Here the results are somewhat skewed, as essentially no hair other than fine vellus hair existed on the cheeks and upper abdomen of the transmen prior to hormone therapy. Hair growth and density on the cheeks of transmen achieved the same levels as those of genetic males within 12 months, although the hair diameter was only 50% of that of a genetic male. Upper abdomen hair achieved a similar growth rate and density as that of genetic males, but hair diameter was about 40% of that of a genetic male. Hair growth rate rapidly accelerated in the first 4 months, but hair density and diameter increased more gradually over the 12-month period. (Giltay)
Another study examined 20 transmen who had never taken testosterone, and compared them with 50 transmen who had taken it an average of 9.9 years and undergone SRS, to focus on the hair effects of hormone therapy. Significant increases in facial and body hair occurred for all transman subjects, and after just 6 months of testosterone treatment more than half of the subjects had what could be described as male body hair. This increased to 80% by 12 months. One subject even began to develop male pattern baldness on the front of their scalp during the first year of study. A review of the 50 experienced transmen found 98% had a male body hair pattern, and 15% had moderate to severe male pattern baldness. Just over a third of the long-term group had experienced no male pattern baldness, however. (Wierckx)
Transsexual women and men on hormone therapy can expect to see significant changes in hair growth rates, density, and thickness on their face and upper abdomen. Transsexual women will see lighter hair growth on their face and abdomen, although it almost certainly will not be enough to achieve feminine aesthetic goals. Transsexual men are likely to see good results on their face and upper abdomen, although the hair may be much finer than typical male hair. Transsexual men are likely to develop androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
Giltay, E.J. and Gooren, J.G. “Effects of Sex Steroid Deprivation/Administration on Hair Growth and Skin Sebum Production in Transsexual Males and Females” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 85.8 (2000): 2913-2921.
Wierckx, Katrien et al. “Short- and Long-Term Clinical Skin Effects of Testosterone Treatment in Trans Men” Journal of Sex Med 11 (2014): 222-229.